Home Affairs still ‘too hasty’ on minors

2014-06-12 00:00

CAPE TOWN — Still too short.

This is how AfriForum yesterday reacted to the grace period until October 1 that Home Affairs allowed parents to get unabridged birth certificates if they want their children to pass with them through South African customs posts.

One of the new immigration regulations, which aim to make human trafficking and child abductions more difficult, determine that any child under 18 must have an un­abridged birth certificate as well as a passport to show when entering or leaving South Africa, or being in transit in the country.

When a child travels alone, or is accompanied by only one parent or guardian, the absent parent or parents must also have furnished an affidavit giving permission for the child to travel with only one guardian or parent.

The regulations were to have started on July 1, at the start of the winter school holiday, but sparked such an outcry from the tourism industry and parents who suddenly had to get birth certificates from Home Affairs’ slow process, that the department decided to allow a grace period to October 1.

Sue Ann de Wet, head of AfriForum’s Woldwide Campaign, has welcomed the postponement of the effective date for parents travelling abroad with minors, but believes that government is still too hasty in this matter.

“This will not necessarily allow enough time to get all required documentation in place,” she said.

She added Home Affairs should create a dedicated office to facilitate the implementation of the new regulations.

Tourism companies have warned that the regulations will have unintended negative consequences, like job losses as inbound tourists go elsewhere.

South Africa is the only country in the world requiring visiting parents to furnish birth certificates and or affidavits from absent parents.

The Board of Airline Representatives(Barsa) on Tuesday said South Africa’s tourism industry stood to lose R6,8 billion because of the extra layer of red tape to visitors.

The Association of Southern African Travel Agents (Asata) said the regulations will cause “chaos” for families who plan to travel in the next couple of months.

Asata CEO Otto de Vries said the operators wanted to advise government on how to communicate the new rules to overseas countries to avoid confusion.

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